I am no expert on mental illness, I only speak through experiences of my own and those brave enough to share their stories with me.
The Highs and Lows
Bipolar is a term that is used very loosely. It is often used to describe someone who experiences rapid mood swings; even if they aren't bipolar, these individuals are cruelly labeled so.
But in reality, it isn't something people can just get over, but it is something that should be accepted—not just by the individual who lives with it but those around them who may not openly understand them.
When you experience your manic states, you may experience emotions and moods that you are not familiar with or comfortable with. Manic states can range from impulse buying, cleaning, raging, or having a feeling of speed and energy. Everyone's experience with manic states differ, and because of that, coping and management of these states differ as well.
When it comes to the lows, they can be harder. Aggression is still a common trait of the lows of bipolar and many other mental illnesses. However, the most common (in my opinion based on observation and personal experience) is depression. These states can be triggered by several factors or nothing at all. That is when someone who lives with bipolar needs the support and love the most.
The Outside Looking In
In my experience, and according to many people in my support groups, the hardest thing about the lows and highs of our mental illness is understanding. Our loved ones, strangers, co-workers, employers, and even friends sometimes don't understand why we get into these states of mind. They don't understand that, even when medicated, we experience these emotional hurdles. It is hard accepting that you woke up in a state of mind that beats you down; it is harder to accept the fact that you simply aren't understood or accepted by those close to you.
What would I say to someone who is on the outside looking in? Open your mind. Show patience and love. Be supportive. While waiting on someone hand and foot would cause a dependency, it is often a good idea to set aside some time to focus on the person who is feeling down or manic. They need to know that they aren't alone, forgotten, or looked down on. It is about positive reinforcement.
Depression isn't something we can just deal with and move on. It is debilitating. It hurts us more than it hurts those around us, and it does hurt those around us.
I want to take the time to address many misunderstandings about being Bipolar.
The most common one is that we are seeking attention. Whether it be because of an angry outburst, super depressive states, or even energetic 'gotta go go go' highs, we are often looked at like children or compared to those who feign mental illness for government assistance, attention, or to 'feel special'. Let me tell you: If we had the choice, I don't think anyone would choose to live with Bipolar. Yes, it is something that we need to accept, but it doesn't mean we have to like it.
In fact, when I was doing research for this piece, someone gave me feedback through their personal experience. I will not go into detail—it isn't my story to tell—but I will point out that they stated they once knew someone who said they were too nice to be bipolar. It isn't all aggression and rage. Sometimes, our manic states are upbeat, uplifting, and positive experiences.
Assuming that everyone is a little Bipolar is an insult. Using that as an excuse to put someone down, even when you are trying to make them feel less alone, takes away from the fact it is a mental illness that needs to be addressed.
Either through therapy, medication, or support groups, our mental illness needs to be seen to and managed in healthy ways. The biggest factor isn't coping in silence—it is those around us that offer support and love that lead to positive management.
You Are Not Alone!
When we undergo our lows, and sometimes our highs, we experience a common feeling: loneliness. One of the biggest things anyone can do to help is to make sure that we are not alone. So this is me telling you that you are not alone. There are many of us that understand and care.
We know you are hurting, but you have overcome so much already. You can handle this, you got this, I believe in you. To anyone reading this, when you feel hopeless and alone, reach out to me. Or at the least someone you know and trust. Do not suffer in silence; it is a downward spiral to a world you don't want to be in.
I was once asked, "How common is Bipolar? How many people experience these lows of pure defeat and helplessness?" I don't know the answer, but it isn't a rare occurrence to encounter someone who does have to overcome these hardships. Even if you don't see it, there is a constant battle being waged in their hearts and minds.
It isn't just Bipolar; it is also BPD and Depression that can cause these lows that make you feel like you are nothing and no one cares. But don't listen to those feelings. They are wrong. You are cared for, and you are loved. Be stronger than you were yesterday, because tomorrow may bring more challenges. You constantly fight, not to be weakened for a finishing blow, but to grow and become stronger than your illness wants you to be.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Billy Haynes from Paragould, AR on July 26, 2020:
Seems like more people are being diagnosed with things like bi-polar now than ever before. I'm not saying it's not real, but everyone has good and bad days, but soon as someone mentions depression or mood swings, "you're bi-polar, take this.".
All I'm saying is, not sure if I believe the numbers or if it's just job security for doctors and the pharmaceutical companies.